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Kalymnos, Greece


Hi Gill.

Thanks for visiting my Greece Travel webpages. I understand that Kalymnos is having a slow tourist season due to the world economic crisis and people's fears about traveling these days.

Please, tell me everything you can about Kalymnos. Your favorite restaurants, beaches, people etc and I will see what I can do to promote the island. I have some very good friends there, the Lias brothers, and I want to go visit them. I had planned to go in July but things became hectic. Maybe September. In the meantime we can put your information on the site for people interested in visiting the Kalymnos.
Sincerely
Matt Barrett
www.greecetravel.com

PS. I stopped in Kalymnos on the way from Lesvos to Rhodes. It was 6am but I got these great photos from the ferry and you can click on them to see them bigger.

 

A Guide to Kalymnos

Hi Matt,

Thank you SO much for you reply. You did say to tell you everything I could about Kalymnos so here goes!

I first discovered the island in 1994, when I took my mum with me on holiday following the death of my father. I chose the island because of the fact that it could only be reached by ferry and the romanticist in me just couldn’t resist. I also considered Kastellorizo but decided I couldn’t drag my aged Mum to somewhere quite as remote! It wasn’t the most successful of holidays as Mum fell on our second night and badly broke her wrist. Having visited the hospital, we were seen (eventually) by a “specialist”, dressed in a designer suit who then disappeared to fetch some “equipment”. He returned 30mins later with a plastic carrier bag, inside which were some rather large stones from a beach. He proceeded to tie Mums’ arm to a drip trolley and hung the bag with the stones over Mum’s lower arm. This was my introduction to Greek traction on a small island! You would think after an experience like that, the last place we would want to return to would be Kalymnos but return we did, the following year and had the holiday of a lifetime. I have been nowhere else since and have no wish to. I visit as often as I can and hope to make the island my eventual home.

Kalymnos is a small island, accessible only by ferry at present, most people travelling to Kos Airport and then catching the ferry from Mastichari. It can also be reached by ferry from Piraeus and with the new fast service twice a week, the journey only takes five hours as opposed to the original twelve. I have also travelled via Rhodes in order to enjoy Easter (I shall tell you about THAT later) celebrations on the island. Once the centre of the sponge diving industry, the island now is in decline, relying on tourism which is rapidly dropping due to the large tour operators pulling out. When I first visited there were up to 3000 tourists per week, now they number only a few hundred. The island has SO much to offer, spectacular scenery, beautiful beaches, wonderful food and amazing people, whose hospitality is second to none. They always remember you, from year to year (even the ferry captains) and you are greeted as one of the family. An example of this is YIANNIS TATSIS, owner of the apartments in which I stay who I contacted because he used to be on the council and I thought he might know some useful contacts I could pass onto you. He immediately invited you to stay, free of charge at his apartments, should you visit the island! He has also extended this invitation to my friends who have accompanied me over the years in the summers, stating that they could also stay free in the out of season months. This kind of gesture is so typical of the Kalymnians, everyone you meet has similar tales. On my first Easter visit, the most special of occasions in the Greek calendar, I was invited to Yiannis’ cleaners’ house to share the family meal on Easter Sunday! The island is also (so I’ve been told!) good for climbing and appears on several climbing web pages. It even featured in a climbing magazine.

Well, that was my introduction! Now for the factual stuff!

I’ve divided the info into sections for ease of location.  

Beaches and Resorts

THERMA and GEFIRA: The “town” beaches. Therma has a taverna. Both close to Pothia- the main town.

VLICHADIA: The main resort to the south of the island. Beautiful bay. Nice for swimming. Plenty of tavernas/accommodation. A little remote.

KANTOUNI/LINARIA: Main resorts. Kantouni has a beautiful sandy beach but there are no sunbeds and there is only a small amount of shade. Plenty of hotels/apartments, Kantouni Beach is main hotel.

PLATY YIALOS: Wonderful sandy beach. Sea shelves steeply and sea is quite wild. Taverna on beach serves good food. A few sunbeds available. Looks out to Ag. Kyriaki- a small deserted islet. Extremely popular at weekends.

MELITSACHAS: Wonderful small beach(shingle). Looks right out towards Telendos(neighbouring isle). Sunbeds available and the taverna at the end serves wonderful food. Several apartments to rent. Popular with locals at weekends.

MYRTIES: Small but pleasant shingle beach. From the jetty catch the little ferry boats across to Telendos. Hotels and apartments in abundance. Shops and tavernas all close by.

TELENDOS: Extremely hot in the height of the season. Little shade. Main beach is Chohlakas and is quite a trek in the heat to the other side of the island from the jetty but is worth the walk. Other swimming along the side of the island facing Kalymnos including a nudist beach and a new sandy beach. Yes! They’ve imported the sand. Plenty of tavernas. Beautiful church.  Some rooms to rent.

MASSOURI: Main resort on the island. Very large sand/shingle beach. Plenty of sunbeds and a few watersports to hire. Wonderful swimming but beware of current far out. Shelves gently, water really clear, the fish swim right up to the waters’edge as it warms up. Couple of tavernas accessible direct from the beach. Others are reached by several sets of steps along the beach. They’re a long climb on the way up of an evening! BUT it’s worth it. Tavernas/shops/hotels/apartments/bars all close by. To watch the sun setting over Telendos from the beach in the evening is truly to be in Paradise!

ARGINONDAS: Small pebbly beach at the end of a “fjord”. Sunbeds available. Quiet. Taverna at end and slightly uphill serves traditional well cooked food. Wonderful views out to sea towards the fish farms, which are well away from wonderful swimming area. 

EMBORIOS: Small fishing village with beach and good swimming. Very laid back and remote. Rooms/apartments to rent. Picturesque with beautiful church. Lovely village to wander around. A few tavernas- nice food.

VATHIS: Tiny but amazing fishing village on the other side of the island. Best approached from the sea but the trip boats never give you long enough there. Swimming area. Couple of excellent tavernas. So laid back it’s almost stopped! A MUST to visit. In the most fertile valley on the island, the smell of the citrus fruit grown there is almost overpowering in the growing season. There is a “canal” which runs through the village and is teaming with fish.  Another great place to wander around.

AKTI: Minute beach on the road to Vathis . Apart from Massouri my second favourite. Pebbly but the water is crystal clear. The only taverna is run by an English woman married to a Kalymnian and serves basic food. The goat stew is lethal-don’t touch it unless you want to be seriously ill! Beach is reached by a precarious “road”- an exhilarating experience driving a hire car- goodness knows what it’s like on a bike but well worth the effort.

There are other numerous small beaches dotted around the island but you need a bike to get there. Also some which can only be reached by boat. Great experience- hire a water taxi from Vathis and get them to drop you off at a beach (usually pebbly). They then come back to collect you at an agreed time later in the day. A real castaway feel but make sure you take water and everything you need with you

PSERIMOS: This is a small island reached by boat departing Pothia every day at 9am returning 4:30pm. This is THE MOST WONDERFUL BEACH in the area, and could almost be in the Caribbean. Long with fine golden sand the beach lays in an arc around a turquoise bay of shallow warm water. Tavernas line the edge of the beach. The local herb seller wanders along the beach with his basket and later the nut seller comes. Only a couple of vehicles on the island, the local donkey is brought down for his drink. A few rooms to stay if you want. Celebrations are held on the beach and Kalymnians visit e.g Paraskevi. IDYLLIC, HEAVEN ON EARTH! Gets busy with trip boats from Kos but they only stay an hour.

Other Places to Visit

CHORIO: The old capital of the island. Some interesting Kafenion and Ouzeria if you want to go native i.e. octopus and Ouzo! Above the village are the ruins of the castle and the old settlement which are fantastic to wander around but it’s a mammoth climb so go early in the morning or out of season.

KEFALA: Reached by boat trip, the caves are again quite a walk but well worth the effort.

OTHER CAVES:
Daskalio reached by caique from Vathis.

Kolonostilo reached by walking from Emborio.

Skalia, Damos, Panagia, Chriso, Agia Varvara and Chostos (haven’t been to these yet)

VILLAGES: Argos, Platanos, Vothini and Metochi all traditional small villages.

CHURCHES: As to be expected, there are numerous churches and chapels dotted all over the island. I have visited many of them, the chapels at Massouri and on Telendos being well worth a visit. AG. SAVVAS is the jewel in the crown as far as churches go. Overlooking Pothia high up on the hill, the illuminated cross at night looks like a beacon offering safe haven for shipping at night. A MUST but it’s a hard climb in Summer. Take a taxi- it’s easier.

 RESTAURANTS

MASSOURI RESTAURANT: Just off the square in Massouri, behind two large trees and with a wonderful terrace out the back from which to dine and watch the sun set over Telendos, it is run by Stelios and Maria who came from Skiathos two seasons ago. The food is wonderful, they will cook anything   to order provided you see them the day before. They have three young children, are a wonderful couple and it’s just that little bit up-market in terms of presentation, service etc.

SUNSET RESTAURANT: Run by Panayiotis(the local butcher), his wife and Themis his daughter plus the rest of the family! The meat here is second to none. Located next door to the Plaza Hotel and by a set of steps to the beach, they remember each and every customer they have and now have an extended family of all us regulars who return to Kalymnos year after year.

PUNIBEL RESTAURANT: Right in the centre of Massouri, perfect for romantic meals(they use candles) and providing you don’t mind not seeing clearly what you are eating, the food is very good. Good service, traditional food.

AEGEAN RESTAURANT: Located between Massouri and Myrties this is THE restaurant to go to for that extra special meal but it does get hot being located under a covered roof and set back from the road. Their Kleftiko is to die for but is not always on the menu so keep an eye on  the board during the day. The service is excellent, bread comes warm as a mini loaf complete with breadknife and you are always given Loukoumades free at the end of the meal. Extensive menu – traditional and other, good service . Very popular.

GLAROS SNACK BAR: Run by Sue and Steve, an English couple who have lived and worked on the island for many years, it is located at the top end of Massouri and is ideal for a light meal. Mainly used by regulars in the evenings as a place to enjoy a drink and unwind or for after dinner drinks, Sue and Steve are the real asset here. Steve speaks Greek, knows everything you need to know and they both act as an informal tourist information office. They will help anyone with anything, from advice on where to shop to where to stay and know all the local gossip! A wonderful safe haven. They even serve the “Full English” for those who can’t do without it!

ARGIOSTOLI(?) RESTAURANT: Just before you arrive at Arginonda, on the left hand side and with no sign outside but down some of the prettiest steps on the island is this traditional taverna run by a couple(perhaps grandparents) and their son. It is almost always deserted but they always have good basic food on the menu. Rather like being in a time warp, they have private steps down to the sea from which you can swim and are always warmly invited to do so. The view across the bay is amazing and for a quiet, simple meal I can think of nowhere else better.

SELENE RESTAURANT: Run by JANE and YIANNI HALKITIS (but sold as from the end of this season). Located just on the edge of Myrties as you walk down from Massouri. Good food and service. Jane is English but has lived permanently on the island for the past ten years and is a very active member of the community. She has much to say about what is happening to the island and has been quite instrumental in motivating members of the web Community to which I belong into trying to get publicity for the island.

SEA BREESE: Run by YIANNI (who always wears a cap and looks like a sea captain) and his wife, located at the top of the hill from Elies Square, before you go down again towards Platy Yialos beach, this is an all-time favourite both of mine and friends who I have introduced to the island. Wonderful, wonderful food in a traditional setting with the bougainvillea blowing gently around the edges of the terrace with spectacular views across the bay towards the monastery and Kantouni.(Until very recently, there was a monk living in this monastery, which is located high up on the mountain and every morning he could be seen walking down the mountain to collect his bread and milk and back up again, later on. I was told he was over 90 years old! but never had this confirmed).

ZORBAS RESTAURANT: Located on Telendos directly opposite as you get off the boat from Myrties. The restaurant is 3 metres from the waters’ edge. Mikes is very welcoming but watch out for the village sausages- they’re very spicy! Beautiful location, good food. Excellent spinach pies.

MARTHAS RESTAURANT: Located in Pothia- traditional Greek restaurant- specialises in fresh fish. As you approach the harbour Martha’s is along the waterfront to the extreme right just before the road starts climbing out of town towards Vathis.

DOLMUS: Kantouni beach. Run by Michalis whose English is so perfect he can even mimic accents- widely acknowledged by the locals as being one of the best restaurants on the island to go to. Very posh with linen table cloths etc. The only restaurant it’s advisable to book.

LA TRATA: Also at Kantouni. Run by Panayotis and Poppi.

NOUFAROU: Top end of Massouri. Has a fountain and again “posh”. Excellent food but a little lacking in character.

PARADISE: Opposite Plaza hotel in Massouri. Run by Maria. They also have just opened another restaurant at the top end of Massouri. (Can’t remember the name) just past Glaros Bar.

THEMIS HOTEL/RESTAURANT:Near the church in Myrties, has a wonderful balcony on which to have dinner over the sea.

ACCOMODATION

PLAZA HOTEL: Stayed here with my Mum on our first visit. Nice pool and had a nice pool bar but have recently covered it in to make a restaurant. Brilliant location right next to the beach with good facilities.

STUDIOS TATSIS: Owned by Yiannis Tatsis, now a good friend. Have been staying there since 1996. Two sizes of studio. Small has bedroom, terrace, bathroom and kitchen. Large has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, dining area, kitchen and two terraces. Located right in centre of Massouri, next to Punibel restaurant. Cleaned daily by Popi, fresh linen every third day. All the studios have views towards Telendos. Four blocks, the top ones have views right across the bay but tend to be hotter than the bottom ones which are in the shade more.

These are the only two accommodations I have used. There are numerous others, ranging from hotels to self-catering apartments. It depends where you want to stay. Kalydna Island Hotel is popular with visitors. Accomodation tends to be basic as you would expect in Greece. Drinking water has to be bought in bottles as the tap water is salty. There are spring taps in Massouri which are safe to drink from.

Elies Hotel is in a garden at the centre of the traditional village of Panormos is conveniently situated just 500 metres from the beach. It has a swimming pool.

You can find more hotels with rates, reviews and photos on Booking.com's Kalymnos Pages

BARS

NADIR-Myrties
JOY- Massouri

Bar opposite the Plaza hotel, run by Nikos and his English wife Bec.

BABIS- Myrties- has wonderful swimming pool at back. Extremely friendly, caring, genuine people.
GLAROS- run by Sue and Steve(mentioned above).
ROCKIN’ BLUES

MICHAELS- Elies Square ( Eliesalso has the oldest Kafenion on the island and is wonderful to sit in and watch the world pass by.
VIVALDI – right on the square in Massouri and run by Manolis

EASTER

I have to mention Easter on Kalymnos. It’s a wonderful but somewhat disturbing experience in more ways than one!. On Easter Saturday, the lamb is slaughtered and the Mouri prepared which is then sealed into village ovens to be cooked until the next day. Every church on the island prepares a float which forms part of a parade down to Pothia in the evening and the parade is met by the Mayor and council and various ceremonies are carried out. After the parade the fun begins with firecrackers etc being thrown and most people stay late in Pothia. Most worrying by far is the Kalymnian tradition of throwing dynamite! Last time I was there for Easter, we were enjoying a meal down in Pothia near the water front when someone threw a stick of dynamite which exploded just opposite the restaurant but fortunately in the water. It can be quite alarming and dangerous. Several people have been killed with the dynamite but everyone joins in with little regard for safety. On Easter Sunday the ovens are opened and the meal is eaten with all the usual specialities such as dolmades etc. It’s a wonderful experience with all the traditional Easter customs; painting, dyeing and cracking eggs etc.

OTHER KALYMNOS INFO

There are many customs and folk tales on the island such as that of the sleeping princess whose face you can see on the side of Telendos and the tale of the seven virgins who are supposed to have hid in a cave to escape pirates  and who disappeared  in the bottomless channel beneath the cave in which they sought refuge. Being the centre of the sponge diving industry at one time , the island is full of reminders of the past and of course tales of the diving era. Faith Warn has written a book called”The Bitter Sea” which tells the story of the sponge fishermen. There is a sponge factory to visit in Pothia and you can see the sponges being washed and prepared. There are also small museums in Pothia.

Transport takes a variety of forms. There are plenty of taxis to hire which are relatively inexpensive. Cars, bikes and scooters can all be hired BUT the roads are somewhat primitive and particularly narrow in Pothia, making driving a somewhat nerve-racking experience. There is not much sense of the Highway Code either- traditional greek driving! But there is a bus service which runs if a little erratically!

I think I had better stop there. I could go on for ever! I hope this has given  a reasonable overview of the island and do have a look at our community website which will also give a glimpse into the island. If you do manage to fit in a visit call in and say “hello” to Yiannis Tatsis, Jane and her husband at Selene and Steve and Sue at Glaros. You will be made MOST welcome I can assure you. Forgot to mention --- at the end of the season, virtually everywhere closes except in Pothia (usually around the end of October). I wasn’t able to go this summer but have managed to fit in a visit for a week from 24th October.

Please forgive any spelling/grammar/punctuation mistakes- I’ve fitted this in between preparing for another year at school. Yes, I’m a teacher!

I hope that I haven’t taken up too much of your time! Thank you again for taking the trouble to reply. I f there is anything else you would like to know please ask!

Best Wishes,

Gill Collins.

PS. Any chance of an acknowledgement to Nikki and Vicky who took the time to reply to my request for suggestions as to favourites etc.?

For hotels and transportation to and from Kalymnos from Pireaus or other islands contact Fantasy Travel  or Dolphin Hellas Travel in Athens or  Aegean Thesaurus Travel in Sifnos

More Kalymnos information...

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